Students' Relay for Life raises $36,000 to fight cancer

More than 600 students and others turned out for Shippensburg University's student Relay for Life, raising $36,000 to help battle cancer and to support programs for cancer patients.

Megan Veazey, a senior biology/secondary education major from Easton, said this year's event "really came together," raising $6,000 more than last year despite the dip in the economy. "The people at Ship definitely came out for the event," she said. According to Veazey, the total amount raised won't be known until the end of August, since participants host other fundraisers over the summer.

Veazey first got involved with the event her freshman year, taking on more responsibility each year and was the chair of the whole event this year. "It's a 12-hour walk symbolizing 12 hours in the life of a cancer patient," she said. "It symbolizes the struggles they go through."

Veazey said this year's event included 59 teams of three to 30 members walking to raise money. The recent event ran from 6 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Saturday in the ShipRec Center.

She said there are five main themes to the relay: opening and closing ceremonies, celebration, remembrance and fight back. During the celebration portion of the relay, 17 cancer survivors shared their stories. "They come and share their stories with the students," Veazey said. "They take time to walk with us. They bring their families along so we can see how cancer affects the whole family."

The remembrance part of the program, which happens at night, gives people the opportunity to talk about family members and friends they have lost to cancer. Veazey said the fight back theme kicks off early the next morning when participants are encouraged to make their own pledge about what they're going to do to fight cancer in the next year. She said for college students it might be exercising more, adopting a healthier lifestyle or pledging to give up tanning.

The senior said it is the cancer survivors she remembers most from her involvement with the event. "You get to see survivors every year who come to the event and those are the faces you can't get out of your mind."